January 5, 2021

Congratulations to Christian DiCanio (PhD, 2008) who has been awarded tenure at Buffalo!

December 17, 2020

Congrats to Line Mikkelsen, whose paper Forms and functions of backward resumption: The case of Karuk, co-authored with Karuk tribal members Charron (Sonny) Davis, Vina Smith, Nancy Super (née Jerry), Peter Super Sr., and Charlie Thom Sr., has just appeared in Language! As the paper notes in its opening paragraph:

The research on Karuk reported here is the outcome of a collaboration between Karuk master speakers and Elders Sonny Davis, Julian Lang, the late Vina Smith, Nancy Super (née Jerry), the late Peter Super, Sr., and the late Charlie Thom, Sr.; Karuk language learners, researchers, and teachers Tamara Alexander, Robert Manuel, Crystal Richardson, Susan Gehr, Arch Super, Florrine Super, and Franklin (Frankie) Thom; and UC Berkeley linguists Andrew Garrett, Erik Maier, Line Mikkelsen, Karie Moorman, Ruth Rouvier, and Clare Sandy in Yreka, California, starting in 2010 and continuing through 2020. The work includes language documentation, linguistic analysis, language learning, development of language curriculum, educational support, language teaching, working through texts, (re)transcribing legacy recordings, linguistic elicitation with verbal and visual stimuli, and the development of ararahih-'urípih (= Karuk language net;, an online dictionary and morphologically parsed text corpus.

December 10, 2020

Congrats to Eric Wilbanks, whose NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant (with Keith Johnson) is being recommended for funding! The project, titled "On-line Integration during Speech Perception", will involve several experiments tracking the time-course of sociophonetic perception, and includes funding for an improved eye-tracking set-up for the lab.

Isaac Bleaman will be giving a talk at the Association for Jewish Studies on the topic "Attitudes toward change in a maintained language: Yiddish in New York" (Dec. 16 at 9:30am) and serving as a respondent on another panel on minority languages in Israel.
He will be giving a longer version of the talk (in Yiddish) at University College London on Jan. 12 at 10am, an event in the Ada Rapoport-Albert Seminar Series on Contemporary Hasidic Yiddish.

December 4, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 27, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 26, 2020

On Monday, November 30, from 3-5pm, please join us on Zoom for Qualifying Paper (QP) project presentations by graduate students Madeline Bossi, Wesley dos Santos, Emily Drummond, and Emily Grabowski.

November 20, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

Congratulations to Zach O'Hagan, who will defend his dissertation, "Focus in Caquinte," on Tuesday, November 24, 9am-12pm. Please click here for the full schedule and abstract. Everyone is warmly invited: (A celebration will take place at 5pm:

November 19, 2020

We are saddened to report that former Linguistics Undergraduate Advisor, Esther Weiss, passed away on Thursday, November 19, after suffering a stroke earlier this week. Esther, who retired in 2006 after 22 years at the University of California, working at three different campuses (UCSB, UCSF, and Berkeley), will be fondly remembered by those who worked with her and the many undergraduate students whom she advised.

November 17, 2020

November 16, 2020

Here's the latest from the Survey of California and Other Indian Languages:

  • We've catalogued new paper materials related to Q'anjob'al (Mayan; Guatemala, Mexico; item 2016-01.048 and above) that derive from the department's 1986-1987 field methods course, with speaker Rafael Pascual and instructor Leanne Hinton. The course was followed by an undergraduate course on K'iche' (Linguistics 175) in fall 1987, and a combined undergraduate-graduate seminar (Linguistics 198/298) on Mayan languages in spring 1988, both taught by Prof. Hinton.

November 13, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Memorial for Gary Holland - Sunday Nov 15 - Zoom - 11am-2pm
    Click here to register. The Zoom room opens at 10:45am.
  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Nov 18 - Zoom - 3:10-4pm
    Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia): How experimental should we be?
  • Phorum - Friday Nov 13 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Chantal Gratton (Stanford): The vowel space as an interactional and affective resource.
    Email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the mailing list.
  • Phorum - Friday Nov 20 - Zoom - 3-4pm
    Claudia Valdivia, Alex Aabedi, and Ben Lipkin (UCSF Brain Tumor Center): Convergence of cross-modal lexical retrieval in the lateral prefrontal cortex.
    Email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the mailing list.
  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Nov 13 - Zoom - 3-4:30pm
    Justin Royer (McGill): Binding and coreference in Mayan: Evidence for object raising.
  • Zoom Phonology - Thursday Nov 19 - Zoom - 9-10am
    Laura Downing (University of Gothenburg): Testing typologies of laryngeal contrasts in stop inventories: The view from Africa.
    For the Zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology Mailing List, contact

November 9, 2020

A Zoom memorial event for Gary Holland will be held 11-2 (Pacific time) on Sunday, November 15. Department community members are welcome. To attend, you need to register in advance here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting; the room will open at 10:45.

November 6, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

November 5, 2020

Congrats to Ruth Rouvier, whose paper "Emotion and Motivation in Language Reclamation" has been accepted for presentation at the 7th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC) and selected for a Most Impactful Paper Award, which comes with a cash prize. The conference will be held virtually March 4-7, 2021.

November 4, 2020

Gašper Beguš will be speaking at the UC Davis PhonLab on Friday, Nov 6 at 10AM on the topic "Encoding linguistic meaning into raw audio data with deep neural networks."

November 2, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, Nov 9, with a talk by David Goldstein (UCLA), held via Zoom from 3:10-5pm. The talk is entitled "Correlated grammaticalization: The rise of articles in Indo-European," and the abstract is as follows:

One of the central empirical goals of historical linguistics is to distinguish probable from improbable changes. This includes not only singleton developments, but also interactions among multiple changes. That is, does one linguistic change become more (or less) likely given the occurrence of some other change? Investigations of this question have been hampered by methodological issues, not the least of which is how exactly correlations between changes should be measured. In this talk, I take up the question of the relationship between the grammaticalization of definite and indefinite articles in Indo-European. Did the emergence of one type of article facilitate (or inhibit) the rise of the other? Using methods developed for the study of correlated evolution in biology (Pagel 1994, 2006), I argue that indefinite articles became more likely to emerge in the wake of the grammaticalization of definite articles. The history of articles in Indo-European is thus an example of correlated grammaticalization. More generally, my results provide further evidence for the view that grammaticalization is not solely a matter of universal principles (e.g., van Gelderen 2011, 2019), but is also crucially conditioned by pre-existing linguistic structure (e.g., Kiparsky 2012, Goldstein 2019).

October 30, 2020

In and around the linguistics department in the next week:

  • Syntax and Semantics Circle - Friday Oct 30 - Zoom - 3-4:30PM
    NELS practice talks:
    Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley): 3-on-3 restrictions and PCC typology
    - Khanin Chaipet (Stony Brook) and Peter Jenks (UC Berkeley): Names as complex indices: On apparent Condition C violations in Thai
    Edwin Ko (UC Berkeley): Feeding agreement: Anti-locality in Crow applicatives of unaccusatives
  • Fieldwork Forum - Wednesday Nov 4 - Zoom - 3:10-4pm.
    Ignacio Montoya (University of Nevada): Reflections on Numu language (Northern Paiute) classes at the university level: Decolonial strategies within a colonial context and implications for language revitalization theory
  • Zoom Phonology- Thursday, November 5th- Zoom - 9:00-10:00am PDT
    Larry Hyman (Berkeley): Tone in Runyankore Verb Stem Reduplication
    For the zoom link or to be added to the Zoom Phonology Mailing List, contact
  • Phorum - Friday Nov 6 - 3-4pm
    Ana Lívia Agostinho (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil): Word-prosody in Lung’Ie: One system or two? (Collaboration with Larry Hyman)
    Email Anna Björklund or Dakota Robinson for the Zoom link and/or to be added to the mailing list.

October 28, 2020

The 2020-2021 colloquium series continues on Monday, Nov 2, with a talk by Kristen Syrett (Rutgers), held via Zoom from 3:10-4:30. The talk is entitled What partial objects tell us about context in nominal semantics, and the abstract is as follows:

Becoming a proficient speaker requires recognizing that the context in which we deliver our utterances affects meaning, even at the lexical level. This influence of context is well known for indexicals like now or pronouns like I or you, gradable adjectives such as big, or predicates of personal taste such as fun, which encode context directly into their semantic representation. Chierchia 2010, Landman 2011, and Rothstein 2010 have proposed that context also plays a key role in the interpretation of count nouns. These proposals not only have implications for lexical representations, but also for the process of language acquisition: what does it mean for children to know that nouns like cup and ball—which are among the earliest words a child comprehends and produces—are context-dependent, and what are the observable consequences? To date, no systematic experimental work has targeted this position on the semantics of nouns or the developmental implications, despite a growing body of work targeting these other context-dependent expressions.

I present a set of studies from an ongoing collaboration with Athulya Aravind (MIT) targeting children’s and adults’ treatment of partial and whole objects as means to probing nominal semantics. We take as a starting point two separate lines of research, investigating and extending them in parallel. The first is a well-known and oft-replicated finding from Shipley & Shepperson (1990): when young children are presented with a set of partial and whole objects (like forks) and are asked to count or quantify them, they count the partial objects as if they were wholes. The second is experimental research on gradability in the adjectival domain (Syrett, Kennedy, & Lidz, 2010). Integrating our results, we argue that while some researchers have taken children’s non-adult-like counting and quantifying behavior with discrete partial objects to signal either a shift in conceptual development or a lack of knowledge of lexical alternatives that implicates pragmatics, the results are consistent with children’s developing understanding of how nominal semantics shrinks or expands the domain of application, and where children diverge from adults is in the ability to identify speaker intentions in a discourse context. Moreover, while nouns may depend on the context, they do so in a way that is distinctly different from relative gradable adjectives—which encode a context-dependent standard—instead align with absolute gradable adjectives. Taken together, the findings indicate that even the most basic count nouns depend on the discourse context for interpretation. While adults seem to know this, it is something that children gradually come to recognize, as they become increasingly sensitive to the goals of communication.